Like anything else that uses input from several dozen people, the aggregated Associated Press Top 25 poll typically leans toward “safe” results and groupthink (example: “Where was this team ranked last week?” instead of using a clean slate to make decisions).
So, naturally, we have some problems with the Week 5 poll. Here’s how we’d fix it:
First teams out: Oklahoma (1-2), Arizona State (4-0), Wake Forest (4-0), Western Michigan (4-0), Toledo (3-0)
25. North Dakota State (3-0)
(AP: Unranked) The Bison likely won’t last long here, but a two-week run in front of more than 100 FBS schools is well-deserved. There’s a chance NDSU could win the Big Ten West if it were to play Minnesota’s schedule this season.
24. Michigan State (3-1)
(AP: 17) Mark Dantonio had us all believing again. But uncharacteristic mental mistakes and a poor day on offense at Wisconsin resulted in one of this season’s most embarrassing beatdowns. We’ll need awhile to build up that trust again, Mark.
23. Florida (3-1)
(AP: 23) A potentially elite defense still makes Florida a threat to win the SEC, but can the Gators rebound from a devastating 38-28 loss on Rocky Top?
22. TCU (3-1)
(AP: 21) The Big 12 is wide open this season, and the Horned Frogs get a chance to prove they belong among the conference’s elite when they face Oklahoma at home this weekend.
21. San Diego State (3-0)
(AP: 19) All the talk about SDSU revolves around running back Donnel “D.J.” Pumphrey (599 yards and 7 touchdowns), but receiver Mikah Holder (10 receptions for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns) has been a great option when teams focus their energy on stopping the Aztecs’ ground game.
20. Boise State (3-0)
(AP: 24) Can you name the only two teams in America with a pair of wins against Pac-12 competition? The answer is Stanford and Boise State. The Broncos just picked up a 14-point win at Oregon State, one week after squeezing past Washington State in Boise.
19. Arkansas (3-1)
(AP: 20) The Razorbacks had an ugly fourth quarter in Dallas, but they should provide a serious challenge to Alabama in two weeks. Arkansas has held a second-half lead in both of its past two games vs. the Crimson Tide.
18. West Virginia (3-0)
(AP: Unranked) Why haven’t the Mountaineers gotten more love? They beat the stuffing out of Missouri in Week 1 and added another impressive win against BYU this past weekend. West Virginia opens Big 12 play against Kansas State this Saturday.
17. Utah (4-0)
(AP: 18) Nothing has been easy at home this year. The Utes couldn’t put away Southern Utah in Week 1, secured a last-second win against BYU in Week 2, and then needed a mammoth game-winning drive to beat USC last Friday. They’re on the road — at Cal — in Week 5.
16. Nebraska (4-0)
(AP: 15) You likely will see the Huskers go up, up, up in forthcoming polls. A relatively easy three-game stretch (vs. Illinois, at Indiana, vs. Purdue) will get them ready for scary back-to-back road trips at Wisconsin and Ohio State.
15. Miami (3-0)
(AP: 14) Mark Richt’s Hurricanes have something in common with the highest-ranked teams on this list: They’ve been whipping their opponents, outscoring them 153-23 through three games. Richt heads back to his old state to pay a visit to former rival Georgia Tech this weekend.
14. Baylor (4-0)
(AP: 13) It sure seems as if Baylor might be the Big 12’s only legitimate hope at a playoff spot this season. Back-to-back games against Iowa State and Kansas should get the Bears into the top 10 before a three-game stretch against at Texas, vs. TCU and at Oklahoma.
13. Ole Miss (2-2)
(AP: 16) The Rebels may have blown two big leads in spectacular fashion, but few can argue with the talent and offensive firepower in Oxford. We laid out the road map for Ole Miss to reach the College Football Playoff earlier today.
12. Florida State (3-1)
(AP: 12) A 43-point loss to Louisville will always be inexcusable, but FSU has a chance to bolster its resumé in the coming weeks. Its next four ACC opponents are a combined 14-1.
11. Tennessee (4-0)
(AP: 11) The Vols overcame a 14-point deficit against Virginia Tech, then a 21-point deficit against Florida. But the Vols would be unwise to try and break that latter mark during an upcoming stretch at Georgia, at Texas A&M and vs. Alabama.
10. Washington (4-0)
(AP: 10) The Huskies and the Cardinal (see below) feel interchangeable at this juncture, but they’ll sort it out this weekend in Seattle. Washington is looking for its first 5-0 start since 1992.
9. Stanford (3-0)
(AP: 7) An undefeated season was on life support Saturday at UCLA, but quarterback Ryan Burns found J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a game-winning touchdown with 24 seconds remaining. The Cardinal will travel up the coast to play Washington this weekend.
8. Clemson (4-0)
(AP: 5) Outside of their South Carolina State thrashing in Week 3, the Tigers have not been collecting style points in 2016. That will need to end this Saturday against Louisville if Clemson wants to avoid falling into an effective 2-game hole in the conference standings.
7. Texas A&M (4-0)
(AP: 9) Yes, the Aggies are legitimate title contenders. But the path to January will go through Tennessee, Alabama and Ole Miss in what promises to be a wild SEC race.
6. Michigan (4-0)
(AP: 4) Besides a slow start against Colorado, the Wolverines couldn’t have played a more perfect four weeks of football. Jim Harbaugh’s team is ready for its first true test of the season: a home game against upstart Wisconsin.
5. Wisconsin (4-0)
(AP: 8) Speaking of the Badgers, few teams in the country — if any — have a pair of wins as impressive as their Week 1 victory over LSU and last week’s trouncing of Michigan State. Can they pull off another upset in Ann Arbor?
4. Houston (4-0)
(AP: 6) The Cougars likely need to go undefeated and then get some help to make the College Football Playoff, though a win over Louisville in November (if the Cardinals are still in the top 10) potentially could be enough to get Houston in on the strength of its resumé alone.
3. Alabama (4-0)
(AP: 1) Yep, they’re the defending national champions. Yep, they might be the most talented team in the nation. But it’s a logjam at the top, and Ohio State and Louisville both have more impressive victories at this stage of the season. I’d pick either team team to defeat the Crimson Tide in a neutral-site game at this point.
2. Ohio State (3-0)
(AP: 2) This was supposed to be somewhat of a down year for Urban Meyer, but we’re heading into the second month of the season and his Buckeyes look like the class of the Big Ten. Here’s hoping we get another “game of the century” showdown in Columbus on Nov. 26.
1. Louisville (4-0)
(AP: 3) Few victories in the past decade have been as shocking as Louisville’s 63-20 pummeling of Florida State in Week 3. The Cardinals looked invincible, and this weekend’s headlining matchup at Clemson provides another chance for Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson (25 total touchdowns) and his teammates to prove they’re not out of ammunition in the fight for No. 1.